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Graduate Program

The mission of the PhD Program in Cell and Developmental Biology is to train and support students from diverse backgrounds in becoming scientists and advancing basic biomedical science. Students are prepared for future careers including research at the cellular, molecular and organism level, data analysis and interpretation, and science communication, outreach, and education.

Graduate Program



Course Requirements

Qualifying Exam

Guidelines and Procedures

Student Travel Guidelines

     BRET Student Mental Health Resource Map

Students begin their graduate training at Vanderbilt University as a member of an interdepartmental program (Vanderbilt IGP or Vanderbilt QCB). During the first year of graduate study, students are engaged in course work and also complete a series of laboratory rotations. First year courses provide competency in core biological disciplines, and laboratory rotations allow students to identify a thesis mentor. In April of the first year, students may enter the CDB Graduate Program if they have chosen to undertake thesis research under the mentorship of a CDB primary or secondary faculty member.

Students complete their didactic course requirements during their second year in graduate school with specialized courses offered by CDB and other departments, and they begin to immerse themselves in their thesis research. At the end of their second year of graduate school, students prepare for the qualifying examination and take it over the summer. After passing the qualifying examination, a student is advanced to Ph.D. candidacy. Students generally spend an additional three to four years completing their thesis research, writing a dissertation and defending it at a public seminar.

During their training, students in CDB are provided many opportunities for additional educational experiences including inviting and interacting with eminent scientists from across the country, presenting their research at national and international scientific meetings, and exchanging scientific information with Vanderbilt colleagues at informal seminars and journal clubs.

The CDB Graduate Program strives to maintain an intellectually stimulating environment in which students are highly prepared for all aspects of their future professions. Progress of students through the CDB Graduate Program is facilitated and monitored by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Program Manager.

Graduates of the CDB Program pursue a range of research and/or teaching careers in academia, biotechnology, or government. Please follow the links for additional information about course requirements and guidelines and procedures of the CDB Graduate Program.